Monday, July 31, 2017

Reality TV from the White House

Image result for sarah huckabee sanders

One of the CNN pundits referred to the staffing of the West Wing positions of the White House as Survivor:White House.  The comment wasn't far from actuality. What's happening at 1600 Pennsylvanie Avenue has sunk to the levels of reality TV programming.  To me, the premise seems less like Survivor than an old ABC reality series The Family, the premise of which was that, unbeknownst to the family members competing for a lucrative prize, the servants on staff in the mansion were charged with determining those voted off as well as the eventual winner. It's not that anything so noble as having the domestic staff vote contestants out of a competition based on rude, condescending, and otherwise inappropriate behavior is what is happening in today's White House. The likeness is more in that those who are being kicked off White House payroll don't necessarily know in advance who has the authority to exclude them. 

All of this would be entertaining were it not that the business of these people is supposed to be to run our nation rather than to entertain anyone.  I understand why North Korea is working around the clock to perfect their long-range missiles. This would seem the perfect time for any of our enemies to strike.  The staff members of the executive branch of our govermnet are likely far too preoccupied with protecting their own interests and preserving their own jobs to have the capacity to adequately advise the president. 

And as to the president himself, I don't even know where to begin. Perhaps it shouldn't have come as a surprise that a man who hosted a reality show in which his signature line was "You're fired!" would turn the human resources department of the White House into a revolving door.

The only person in the White House for whom I have anything resembling respect is Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  She has almost certainly sold her soul to the devil in a metaphorical sense by accepting any position whatsoever in the Trump campaign or administration, and she's going to find herself in the position of having to speak untruths even if unwittingly. Still, she seems to be a decent human being and a person of substance.

As far as Scaramucci is concerned, good riddance. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Disclosure, Ethics, and Other Difficulties Plaguing the Trump White House

“There are so many qualified men and women who wanted to serve this president, this administration and their country who have been completely demoralized and completely, I think, disinclined to do so, based on the paperwork that we have to put forward, divesting assets, the different hoops you have to run through,” Conway said. “This White House is transparent and accountable, and we’ve all complied with those rules, but it has disincentivized good men and women. I hope it doesn’t disincentivize Anthony.”  -Kellyanne Conway, july 27, 2017 [italics added]




discourage (a person or course of action) by removing an incentive.

In what way does requiring disclosure remove an incentive? Requiring disclosure might very well dissuade or discourage a person who had something to hide from doing that for which the disclosure was a requirement, but how does it remove an incentive? Does Kellyanne conway think that randomly tossing five-syllable words into a conversation increases her credibility?

Malapropism notwithstanding, is Kellyanne Conway's point that a requirement to conduct one's affairs in an ethical manner discourages potential public servants from filling government positions? If so, I would view that as being clearly a positive effect of the requirement of public disclosure.

On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway debated CNN anchor Brian Stelter regarding the truth, lies, and scandals as conveyed by Donald J. Trump.

STELTER: "The scandals are about the President's lies. About voter fraud, about wiretapping, his repeated lies about those issues. That's the scandal."

CONWAY: "[Donald Trump] doesn't think he's lying about those issues, and you know it."

That's her best defense of Trump? Seriously?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Fidget spinners may be dangerous! *

High Speed Metal Fidget Spinner Stress Relief Toy

* for  idiots

The most recent toy craze  of which I'm aware is that of the fidget spinners that seem to be everywhere. Every child over the age of five that I've seen in a medical practice in the past two months has toted at least one of the small devices in his or her possession. The spinners are apparently made by multiple manufacturers. I don't know if someone's patent attempt failed or if no one bothered to patent the design in the first place. Because the devices are made and sold by multiple outlets, there doesn't seem to be any consensus as to what should be the minimum age for using the devices independently, and there seems to be a bit of a quality control issue where some of the manufacturing jobs are concerned.

A young girl's mother has charged that the spinning fidgets are unsafe because her ten-year-old daughter put one in her mouth to clean it, it came apart, and one of the device's weighted bearings became lodged in the girl's throat. The girl underwent an endoscopy procedure to have the small part, which was approximately the size of a quarter, removed from her esophagus.  Yes, you read correctly that the child was ten years old. Yes you read correctly that the girl put the device in her mouth to clean it. You also read correctly that the girl's mother is blaming the manufacturer of the toy for the girl having inadvertently ingested the bearing piece from the toy.

When I was two years old, I was being driven back to my grandparents' home from  a birthday party in Utah by my Aunt Claudine.  I had in my hands a small cellophane bag that contained the party favor, which was a set of jacks. My aunt Claudine looked in her rear view mirror just in time to see me putting one of the jacks into my mouth. (That was unusual behavior for me. I typically had to be bribed even to put food in my mouth.) "Alexis, take that out of your mouth RIGHT NOW!" my aunt hollered at me. "It'll slip down your throat, and they'll have to cut you open to get it out. They might not even have time to knock you out first!" It was certainly a scare tactic, and perhaps overkill where a two-year-old was concerned, but it worked. It's the end result that matters where child safety is concerned. But wait, it gets better. "And besides," my aunt continued, "a [insert whatever derogatory name for any person of any different race that you would like to use; I'm not using the word my aunt used] might have touched that before it got put in the package." I was unsure of why it mattered that a person of that particular race had touched the jack, but the idea of anyone having touched the item was enough to make me think it shouldn't have been in my mouth. Your mouth is where you put things that are already clean, not a place you put things in order to get them clean. I would have expected a ten-year-old to know that.

An eleven-year-old boy in Australia threw his fidget spinner in the air. It came down and hit him in the eye, nearly causing a serious injury. His mother blames the toy,or more precisely, the toy manufacturer, for not posting some sort of warning that the toy can be dangerous because if a person tosses the spinner up into the air, it [DUH!] comes down.  Most of us have at least a basic understanding of  the practical applications of gravity and that an object tossed into the air will eventually make its way back down. I would say that perhaps sir Isaac Newton's work is not so esteemed in Australia as it is here in the U.S., but: A) I highly doubt that such is the case, and B) it's actually something of a relief to have someone who says or does something really stupid not to be an American for once. We generally have the stupidest people on the planet here; it's nice for Australia to take that particular monkey off our backs if only for this one time.

People who do not have children are often self-proclaimed experts concerning what children should or should not do. We often are incredibly quick to assert what our own future children will or will not do, and what we will do about it if they do those things that we say they will never do. I've seen many of my former fellow future parents go on to become actual parents and to eat their own words in more ways that I had previously imagined were possible.  For that reason, I'm ever so slightly reluctant to say that my future child will not, at the age of ten or at any other age, put a toy in her mouth (to clean it, no less) and accidentally ingest a part of the toy in the process. My child might also unsheathe a blade of a Swiss army knife, toss it in the air, and injure himself or herself or anyone unlucky enough to be in the vicinity when what went up ultimately came back down. While I would love to believe that I am incapable of producing a child who is stupid enough to have done what either of the two children discussed previously here have done, we know that there are absolutely no guarantees when it comes to reproduction.  (I witnessed this first-hand when my father [who has maxed out every IQ test he has ever been given]  sired my brother [who wouldn't max out an IQ test if someone handed him the answer key right in the middle of the test. If anything, handing my brother the answer key would confuse him and cause him to score even more poorly than the dismally low score he would have gotten on his own].) My child might very well someday do something every bit as stupid as what either of those children did. Kids are inherently stupid. 

What I will say is that I will not be as stupid as are the parents of either child. If I become a parent and if, or more likely when, my child does something incredibly stupid, I vow to be grateful if luck has worked in my favor and the child and anyone near him escaped the act of stupidity with no permanent damage, and to allow my child to own the age-appropriate stupidity (if, for example, it's an eighteen-month-old child playing with a sharp or choke-able object, the stupidity is on me and not on the child) of his or her foolish act. It's only when we're allowed to own our behaviors that we can learn from them. The best way to ensure a state of perpetual and permanent stupidity for one's offspring is to blame someone else for their foolish behaviors.  

If I change my tune and join the side of the enablers if or when I someday become a parent, I invite anyone who knows me to call me on it. I will deserve it.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Kelli Ward: Ambulance-Chasing Vulture Extraordinare

I consider Kelli Ward to be a far more literal ambulance chaser. 

The preceding illustration may be somewhat misleading. Regardless of whomever created the graphic display, and for whatever reasons he or she operated under the mistaken or outdated impression that Sarah Palin was, for reasons unbeknownst to me, the reigning ambulance chaser of U.S. politics, such is no longer [if ever it was] the case. I am uncertain as to anyone's reasoning as to why that designation should ever have  belonged to Sarah Palin. History, notwithstanding, this honor now has a new recipient.  The title quite rightfully belongs to Arizona state senator Kelli Ward.

In 2016, Kelli Ward had an unsuccessful bid in the republican primary for John McCain's senate seat.  She has since announced her intent to challenge Jeffry Flake for his senate seat in 2018. Meanwhile, Ward has sniffed out a potentially more direct route to the U.S. Sentate.  In wake of the recent announcement of John McCain's glioblastoma, Ward declared on an Indiana radio talk show that McCain should step aside "as soon as possible."  Should McCain actually resign, only Arizona Governor Doug Ducey stands between Kelli Ward and the U.s. Senate. Please join me in prayer, karmic thought, or any other powers of intersession in which anyone out there places faith, for the benefit of the soundness of mind of Arizona's governor.

Did Kelli Ward believe that this declaration via a radio program, followed by a written statement from her, would be a politically expedient move? Was Ward under the assumption that she was the only person on whom the thought of McCain's resignation had dawned? Did she really think that the rest of us [I use the pronoun us to include myself because even someone so politically inept as I had entertained the possibility that McCain might consider his time and energy better spent somewhere other than in or on the U.S. Senate. Still, I wouldn't have suggested his resignation publicly, and I have nothing to gain by his resignation or to lose by the suggestion of it. 

Ward has everything to gain by McCain's resignation (except that Arizona's governor may value his own reputation too much to appoint her as his successor even of McCain chooses to resign), and every bit as much to lose by appearing as the unrelenting opportunist that she apparently is by offering the suggestion. Did it not occur to Ward that someone else likely would have made the same suggestion, even if not publicly, thereby sparing her the public relations nightmare she has created for herself? Did she honestly consider that her on-air proclamation and follow-up written statement were politically prudent moves? Is this woman authentically stupid?

In a statement published on her website, Ward wrote, "As a doctor, I've counseled patients in similar situations and these end-of-life choices are never easy. I usually advise terminal patients to reduce stress, relax and spend time laughing with loved ones." I'm not issuing any sort of denouncement of Ward's skill as a physician, as I'm not in any way qualified to do so, but I will state that anyone with a glioblastoma -- or with anything even bordering the gravity of such a diagnosis -- would be well-advised to seek guidance from a medical practitioner with greater expertise than that typically possessed by a doctor of osteopathy who specializes in family practice and in osteopathic manipulative therapy.  Furthermore, it's highly presumptive at the point her pronouncement was made [possibly fewer than two days following McCain having been given the diagnosis himself] to have categorized his prognosis and related decision-making process as "end-of-life choices."  In subsequent comments given to Today's News-Herald, Ward conceded that she had not examined nor viewed medical records for Senator McCain, which was a rather blatant understatement. Neither did she backpedal from her dire predictions for the senator.

If the people of Arizona were to elect this person to a national legislative body, it would cause me to be most disheartened, though they have a right to elect whomever they feel most qualified to serve them. The suggestion of her appointment to a national legislative body is, however, another matter entirely. Governor Ducey, have mercy on the United States of America!  Please -- I implore you -- do not appoint this classless excuse for a human being to the United States Senate.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Leave Venus Alone!

Image result for venus williams playing tennis

Historically speaking, I have not been the world's staunchest supporter of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams. They haven't always, in my opinion, conducted themselves with the utmost grace following on-court losses. They have sometimes suggested, either in regard to their own play or in defense of each other, that they can be beaten on court only if they defeat themselves.
This is, I feel, a failure to give due credit to an opponent. A classier course of action is to concede that one's opponent was the superior player on that given day. Far more often than not, both Williams sisters have done exactly that, but a failure to do so even once attracts a great deal of attention.

For the most part, though, Venus and Serena Williams have conducted their personal and professional lives, as do ***** the overwhelming majority of female athletes, in a manner that is above reproach. They occupy themselves productively, pay taxes, stay on the right side of the law, and share their wealth with worthy causes. In the grand scheme of things, the world would be a lovely place if everyone inhabiting it lived as the Williams sisters do.

Where Venus Williams' recent auto accident is concerned, I am bothered by how she has been treated. A car Venus was driving was struck by another car in an intersection not far from her home in Florida. The driver of the other car suffered multiple fractures. Worse yet, a seventy-eight-year-old passenger in the car sustained injuries that led to his death thirteen days later. An auto accident is probably not the way any of us wish to see our elderly relatives go. I'm especially sorry for the driver of the car, who must deal with her own injuries along with the grief associated with losing her husband.

On the other hand, sometimes accidents are merely accidents. Sometimes, even, those who suffer the greatest losses as the result of accidents are also the  ones who, when everything has been investigated, are shown to bear some or all of the responsibility for having caused the accidents. Palm Beach Gardens police initially, after interviewing witnesses, stated that Ms. Williams was at fault in the accident. Someone, acting on behalf of the estate of the deceased, almost immediately filed a lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages from Ms. Williams. Subsequently a tape of the accident showed that Ms. Williams entered the intersection legally on a green light, stopped when another car turned left in front of her, then, when the light turned red, attempted to proceed through the intersection when her car was slammed by another car entering the intersection. The Palm Beach Gardens police apparently learned from their earlier mistake of prematurely assigning fault in the accident, and this time declined to state specifically who was at fault. 

The officers presumably will soon complete their investigation. I won't  jump to any ridiculous conclusions in the meantime. Nonetheless, I have questions concerning how a collision of such magnitude occurred under the circumstances.
The driver of the car that struck Ms. Williams' car indicated that she was approaching the stoplight as it turned green and couldn't stop in time to avoid hitting Ms. Williams' car. From that, I would assume that she hadn't yet stopped at the light.  What if the light had not turned green at that precise instant? Would the driver then have run the light and hit whomever else happened to be in the intersection?

Police stated that Ms. Williams entered the intersection legally. A car turned left in front of her. She was driving sufficiently defensively that she was able to avoid hitting that car. Then the light turned red. She appeared to have proceeded with caution. The driver of the other car (and the spokesperson for whatever law firm represents the estate of the deceased) says that Ms. Williams should have stayed out of the other driver's lane -- that, by proceeding through the intersection, she failed to yield the right of way. How fast must the vehicle have been traveling if the driver could not stop though cars were in the intersection? Should Venus Williams  have remained in place in the intersection, blocking traffic? I assume that, had she seen another car approaching at a fast enough rate of speed to create a fatal accident on impact with her car, Ms. Williams would have remained motionless. Had she done that, however, she might just as easily have been broadsided by another elderly Florida driver plowing through the intersection.

What would you or I do if someone turned left in front of us in an intersection? Would we apply the brakes to avoid an avoidable collision, or would we go ahead and hit the car turning left so that we would then be clear of the intersection before a light turned red?  What do you or I typically do when a light turns green, theoretically allowing us to proceed, yet a car or two remain(s) in the intersection before us? Do we proceed because we have the supposed right of way, or do we first allow the cars to clear the intersection? It all seems quite ludicrous when the possibilities are considered.

My dad is here as I'm typing this. He says I'm throwing fuel on the fire by writing anything about this issue before the police have completed their investigation (except that it's probably OK because he acknowledges that hardly anyone reads this blog). It is not my intent to do that at all, though, with the information the police have given us, it's difficult to concoct a cogent scenario in which Ms. Williams would be at fault in this accident. It would be a classy move for the "estate" to announce that it is dropping the lawsuit against Ms. Williams. As it was, whoever was responsible for acting on behalf of the estate barely waited for rigor mortis to set in before filing the suit. Would such have been the case if someone as ordinary as I had been driving the other car, or is the hastiness with which the suit was filed in some way proportionate to the presumed depth of Ms. Williams' pockets? About that we will never know; we're each free to form our own conclusions.

***** Knotty or anyone else who knows, is it do or does here? Does the verb need to agree with "majority" or with "athletes"?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Chris Christie, Ugly American

My cousin who is a police detective says that people's eyes move upward when they are lying -- particularly when they're inventing their reality as they speak.

Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, is someone I find rather disgusting. I never bought his lack of complicity in the Bridgegate  fiasco -- the situation in which lanes of traffic were closed on the George Washington Bridge in alleged retaliation for a local mayor's lack of support for Christie's gubernatorial bid.  He was able to escape any charges in the lane closure misdeed by placing the blame on assistants. Perhaps the assistants did pull of the bridge lane closure incident without Christie's knowledge or input. While I find it difficult to believe such to be the case, Christie is presumably capable of hiring assistants who are dishonest outlaws who would commit such an act.

Christie's most recent scandal of closing state beaches because an impasse between himself and democratic state legislators regarding a budget, then granting himself, along with family and friends, access to a state-owned beach adjacent to a state-owned beachside mansion reserved for the governor's use. This is wrong on so many levels that it's difficult to know where to start. it looked as though he was essentially flaunting his authority. Then his publicist lied about Christie's actions, trying to hide between what he or his publicist considered a technicality but what I maintain was not even technically true. The publicist, when called on either his or Christie's  lie, stated that Christie had not "caught any sun" because he worse a baseball cap during his time on the beach. That's not even technically true. Whatever the meaning of "caught any sun" might be construed to be, it has nothing to do with whether or not one's face was in the sun. Furthermore, parts of Christie's face were exposed to the sun.

Suggestions have been made by various pundits that Christie's debacle was an attempt to gain favor, and possibly a job, with President Trump once Trump fires another cabinet member or assistant 9Reince Priebus' job in particular has been cited as one on which Christie might possibly have in his radar. 

While I can  picture Trump being impressed by blatant flaunting of authority and bold-faced lying to the media, I hope such is not the case; I do not approve of Christie representing my nation in any official capacity or being compensated with my tax dollars. I could probably go along with Christie replacing Kellyanne Conway, as she is even more despicable than is Christie. Otherwise, he is the problem of the state of New Jersey, not of the United States of America.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

They're Ba-aaaack: Reprise of Feverish Pitch and the Useless Dominican Infield

My brother and his bandmates look both weirder and less androgynous than do these people.

I'm sitting at a table in a club with, at last count, eleven friends. We're watching and listening to my brother's band. I thought we might have seen the last of Feverish Pitch and the Useless Dominican Infield, but I thought wrong. For the record, I told my brother way back in the day that his band's name was stupid and that he needed a more concise name, something like MouseRAt, though he couldn't use that exact name because it was already taken. He didn't listen to me. Years later, they're toiling away in obscurity. The band is calling this their final performance, but they called a performance two years ago the same thing, as well as one a year before that, and one eighteen months before that. Then there was their Farewell Tour eleven months earlier, which consisted of three separate performances. I'm beginning to believe we may never see the last of these people.

I've reached a conclusion that I had more or less believed before, but not to the degree I presently believe it, which is that Matthew does not belong on a stage with the other people in his band. He has legitimate musical talent. No one else in the group does. My cellist friend I know from several years of summer music festival who is here with me tonight agrees with me on this, and he's unbiased. It's not so much a matter of Matthew oozing talent from every pore as of the rest of the band having no talent whatsoever. Still, Matthew can at least sing as well as play guitar [masterfully] and even play keyboards proficiently on a few cover songs. (Cover songs are the only ones in the band's repertoire that are not atrocious. The band's original songs are hideous beyond imagination.) If 
Matthew were willing to live with at least one roommate for the rest of his life, to shop for food only at grocery outlet stores,  to clip coupons religiously, and maybe to learn to cut his own hair, he could conceivably make a living on his skill as a musician. I never thought I would say even that

Nonetheless, it's just as well that Matthew is preparing himself to hold down a substantial day job. He otherwise would probably have to collect cans and bottles for recycling in order to have a prayer of paying for health insurance  -- either that or to find a sugar mama, and those sorts of accessories come with all sorts of strings attached. We're all better off preparing to support ourselves. If we end up with significant others who are capable of supporting us or at least themselves, that's all the better, but it seems imprudent to count on it. I know people who don't have to work, but they managed to obtain educations and, because they had the capability of being self-supporting, did not have to settle for anything.  No one should leave himself or herself in a position of having to settle for anything.